Toledo Winter Break 2022 Family Fun Guide

Is anyone else looking forward to reconnecting with your kiddos? Spending quality time together as a family making some epic memories? Whether you’re looking for some free local indoor activities, something to make and take, or an awesome day trip, this guide has you covered!

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Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit, totally worth the trip!

A couple weeks back a good friend of mine texted me about taking the kiddos to a new place in Detroit. I figured what the heck; I am always up for an adventure! Besides, I will let you in on a little secret; I always have a backup plan. This time my backup plan was to take the kiddos to the Hands on Museum in Ann Arbor if this Outdoor Adventure Center place was a total bust. So, needless to say, my expectations going into this Outdoor Adventure Center were extremely low. But I am happy to say there was no need for a backup plan. In fact I just have one word for Detroit, BRAVO!!!

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Best FREE Farm Experience!

As soon as you step out of your vehicle you instantly feel the warmth, comfort, and hospitality of being down on the farm, even on a cool crisp Fall day. All are welcomed at Gust Brother’s Pumpkin Farm and yet you don’t feel like a guest, but rather, part of the family. Admission is free, in fact it is nonexistent.

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Gust Brother’s Farm has been a Fall time family favorite destination for years, it isn’t officially Fall until we visit the farm at 13639 Mulberry Rd. Ottawa Lake, MI.

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Our first stop is always the barn. It is filled with animals that the children definitely don’t see on a regular basis. Visiting the farm is always a nice refresher for my city kids on where our food comes from; I fear too often they assume a magical fairy simply drops it off at Costco. Thankfully a visit to Gust Brother’s discredits that myth.

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And speaking of food, their farm has been certified by the USDA as an environmentally friendly farm. They offer a Summer Market that starts in mid-June and goes till Mid-September that includes, beef, Angus beef, and pork, (coming soon they will be offering grass fed beef with no hormones or antibiotics, just an FYI)!

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But I must admit it is so hard to look at these big beautiful animals and imagine eating them. In fact, after seeing all the cows on our visit to the farm we ended up eating Chick-fil-a for lunch, it just felt right. Lol!

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The barn also houses adorable piglets, their momma, and sheep!

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We literally hung out in the barn for one hour admiring and petting the animals then we finally made our way over to the cute cuddly, I seriously wanted to take one home, adorable bunnies!!!

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After the bunnies we stopped by to say hello to the chickens (or are they roosters…please forgive me, I am not used to seeing them with feathers. By the time I place one in the crockpot someone else has done all the work, and I am so thankful for that!).

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We waved a friendly hello to this adorable baby and then we were parched!

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I know I said this is the best FREE farm experience but if you are wise you will bring a little “fun money” as my grandma called it, to spend in the coffee & donut shack, on a hayride, and/or to buy some goodies in the market.

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Nothing says Fall like a caramel apple and when you are 5 sprinkles are just an added colorful bonus!

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And last but certainly not least, some goodies to take home!


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Total confession we visit Gust Brother’s Farm at least 3 times every fall, we can’t get enough! We will be headed back in a couple weeks to pick our pumpkins. Each kiddo grabs a wagon, we head to the field, and each picks out their pumpkin to carve; it is kinda a big deal. Haha!

So if you are in need of a full on Fall family farm experience  Gust Brother’s Pumpkin Farm is the perfect destination!


Escape to this FREE PlayScape & SprayScape!!!

I picked up the kiddos from school yesterday and totally surprised them with an impromptu road trip to Plymouth Dream PlayScape & SprayScape!! It was a scorcher yesterday & just the thought of a Sprayscape sounded refreshing but you know what was even more refreshing than that? The fact that it’s FREE!!

I packed an after school snack for the drive up and dinner to have later. The trip was so smooth, NO CONSTRUTION!! Woot! Woot! We belted out a few tunes and before we knew it we had arrived at 46640 Ann Arbor Trail, just east of Beck Road, Plymouth Township Dream PlayScape & SprayScape!!

First stop, Dream PlayScape!! And what a PlayScape it is!!

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It is huge! There is so much to do for all ages! There are swings and a play area for the toddlers and preschoolers….

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There are so many towers for all the Princesses & Knights to climb up to….the children could escape the realities of back-to-school and allow their imaginations to run wild in this Dream PlayScape.

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Talk about great exercise, there are so many climbing apparatuses…and the sheer size of the structure barricades any possibility of boredom!

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I even found myself climbing around, why should the kids have all the fun? Lol!

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After all that climbing, swinging, running, jumping, sliding, hopping, etc. around the kids were drenched with sweat….thank goodness for the SprayScape over yonder!

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The Sprayscape is designed to accommodate all ages and is open seven (7) days a week beginning the Saturday of Memorial weekend through Labor Day of each year. Daily operating hours of the Sprayscape are: 10 AM to 7:30 PM.

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The park itself is also gorgeous, parents will enjoy the LandScape! There are picnic areas, a baseball field, stream, shaded areas, hills, clean restrooms, etc.

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So pack a picnic and escape, because sometimes adults need to escape the chaos of life too & unwind, become one with nature, enjoy time with your kids, and return home rejuvenate.

So, if you are looking for the PERFECT ESCAPE this weekend make a trip to Plymouth Township Park’s PlayScape & SprayScape!

While in Plymouth you might want to also checkout…. 3&Up Board Game Lounge ,   My Seg Adventures (for the older crowd), Plymouth Historical Museum 




I left my Heart in Holland

Have you ever had a remarkable evening that is just so magnificent that you find yourself ranking all future evening against it? The ambiance, company, temperaments, entertainment, talent, etc. all perfectly combined into a symphony of euphoric splendor…now that is pure Downtown Holland, Michigan.

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Our journey to splendor-ville began on a textbook summer evening.  We originally planned on just staying for dinner, grabbing a cappuccino, then heading out afterward. However, as we left Curragh Irish Pub and made our way to JPs Coffee and Espresso Bar (FYI-they have THE best cappuccinos!) we stumbled upon a sign stating that there would be Street Performers downtown on Thursday evening, as luck would have it was a Thursday evening! And that is when our evening took a dramatic & insanely awesome turn!

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Downtown Holland vibe is eclectic, a nice marinade of hip, artistic, high-end, family friendly, sophisticated relaxation. And we were about to spend an entire evening soaking up that vibe.

The evening was filled with an intertwinement of amazingly talented street performers with short interludes for shopping…a girls dream come true!

Our first stop, a Bluegrass Jam Session  at the Holland area Arts Council! (What was so cool about this is they welcomed peeps to bring their own instruments and join in! And the fact that it was entirely FREE) We so enjoyed sitting and listening to the music, the kiddos really admired the various instruments in the session and how they all came together for an impromptu song.

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Next stop, Circus Acts….Bangarang Circus

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This group was AH-mazing!! They really captivated the audience and drew a huge crowd. They were so talented, there performance was perfectly choreographed with the music, absolutely fascinating…and the hoops & fabric acts were slightly scary, which only added to the excitement! We could have stayed there all night mesmerized by their talent. I literally had to bribe the kids away from these performers, WITH CANDY! (Yes, they were that good!)

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The kiddos each received $5 to spend on sugary delights at the Holland Peanut Store

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Not going to lie, the kiddos had some tough decisions to make considering the fact that the store literally carried every type of candy you could imagine! And it smelled like heaven! It was too tempting; even I succumbed to the sweet heavenly delight, darn you Holland Peanut Store and all your enchanting treats!! LOL!

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Since I was so good for the kids in the candy store it only seemed fair that I get my turn shopping, right!? Haha!

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Next stop Moynihan Gallery & Candle-ology! I should warn you, I am a soy candle freak!

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I adore soy candles (because they burn clean)…and often times the more unusual scents, thus I was like a kid in the Holland Peanut Candy Store as I walked down the Candle-ology isle sniffing practically all 100+ scents. This is THE COOLEST part, you can blend your very own candle! What!?! ( Know someone having a baby, getting married, maybe your on a romantic getaway? Why not savor the scent of the event/weekend and make a custom candle to burn for weeks to come and commemorate the event/weekend? Such an original gift idea! You can even name/label your candle!) So, after sniffing all the scents  if you don’t see one you like or if you want to mix scents you can make your own! And it doesn’t take long. It is such a cool experience & highly recommended! And don’t worry about the kiddos being occupied, the shop has SO many neat gifts and cool things to look at, they will be occupied.

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And, just one more quick stop for mom, at Fustini’s  I can’t pass up the opportunity to sample oils and vinegars!

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Their Ginger & honey balsamic is my all-time favorite, it tastes amazing on Asian salads, Ahi tuna, chicken, veggies, in a shot glass, you name it! Lol! I am obsessed!

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And on with the show!

We were stopped in our tracks when we walked down the street and heard the beautiful, delicate, voices of these lovely young ladies singing Disney Princesses’ songs….yet another performer set I had to literally pull my 4 year old away from.

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As we walked down 8th street I could hear the laughter coming from the crowds watching a clown, children screaming with excitement to receive an animal balloon, people gasping in amazement as a juggler juggled knives, the soft fluttering of the wind instruments, deep hum of the cello, it was a choirs, a symphony of enchantment. It was a magical evening!

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Huge thank you to ALL the performers for sharing their talents with all of us and to Downtown Holland for making us feel so welcomed and for offering such magnificent events! Planning your visit to Holland? Make certain you check out their calendar of events …who knows what kind of fun is waiting for you! Holland will steal your heart, you have been warned!! 😉

Grand Rapids Gastropub, Paleo Farm Basket, and more!

After taking in all that gorgeous architecture and design we were parched! We managed to locate a delicious eatery just a few miles from the Meyer May house (FREE tours of a Frank Lloyd Wright House!), The Winchester

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I am literally STILL dreaming about that meal! Have you ever eaten something that just tastes so fresh, crisp, and delicious that you just wanted to savor every morsel? That is precisely how I felt about every bite of food I had at The Winchester.

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The Winchester is a gastro pub.

What is a gastropub? A gastropub is a bar that also serves high-quality cuisine. Gastropubs, which offer gastronomy in a pub setting, have become extremely popular in recent years. Chefs are now leaving fancy restaurants behind, trading them in for laid-back pubs with accessible price points so they can attract regular customers rather than sporadic diners who only come on special occasions. Gone are the days of greasy “pub grub”….Gastropubs serve a higher standard of food than you’ll find at your average watering hole. SOURCE  

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We started off lunch with a shareable, Roasted Vegetable. And, get this, some of the veggies actually came from the garden across the street! Talk about local, organic, & FRESH!!


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The Winchester definitely quenches the sophisticated palate, and with some of the most simplistic dishes, like the Classic Burger and Fries. Those are fresh, hand cut, homemade, pure deliciousness of a fry! True I gave up carbs but I will make exceptions when it comes to food this delightful!


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And the salad I order was nothing short of spectacular! The color, freshness, crispy texture, and unbeatable taste, it was like a symphony for my taste buds.

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My taste buds are still singing The Winchester’s praises! I can’t wait to go back!


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After Lunch we stopped in at a neighboring establishment, Nourish to grab some ingredients for some Paleo cookies.

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Speaking of Paleo how cool is this? Nourish offers a Paleo Farm Basket….

The Paleo Farm Basket

Now in its third season, this basket is already an old favorite with members who are serious about a traditional way of eating.

Each basket in this plan includes:

  • A gorgeous bouquet of local organically grown vegetables and fruit.
  • An added selection of some paleo must-have foods like avocados, sweet potatoes and peppers.
  • Some healthy and interesting traditional fats like lard or coconut oil, along with nuts and fruits.
  • A supply of healthy local grass-fed locally-grown meat and sustainably caught fish.

Just what the doctor ordered! This basket is for you! $75 a week

Available for convenient free delivery or in-store pickup.

Of course it includes a weekly newsletter that provides great recipes, tips and paleo-healthy information.

Wish they delivered to Toledo, how cool would that be? I want this! (Might have to do some researching and see if there is any local organic health food store that offers a Paleo home delivered basket.)

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I also thought it was pretty cool that they had photographs of the actual farmers in the store….it is always nice to put a face with the name of the individual who is putting all their time, energy, and hard work into growing your food.


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And last put not least, dessert! Or at least my kind of dessert, a cappuccino!! A REAL cappuccino! At Rowster’s!!

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It was so smooth and oh so delicious!


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I was sad to see our day in Grand Rapids end. There was so much more I wanted to see and do.


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I can’t wait to go back!

Speaking of going back, if you plan on visiting next week you will be in town during Grand Rapids Restaurant Week!!  (August 12-23)

Going with the family? Then be sure to check out Grand Rapids Kids before you go for some fun kid friendly hot spots!

Getting a babysitter? Then grab some friends and enjoy the Great Lakes Pub Cruiser! There is so much to do in Grand Rapids! Enjoy! And please feel free to share your adventures in the comments.


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FREE Tours of a Frank Lloyd Wright House!

The best part about summer….Road Trips!! Destination, Grand Rapids Michigan!!

Our day began in the Heritage Hills Historic District of Grand Rapids, at 450 Madison Avenue, at the Meyer May house. What makes this house so special? It was designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright in 1909.

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It is called the Meyer May house because that is who the structure was initially designed for, a wealthy clothier in Grand Rapids and his family. What is really interesting about the house is that even though it was built over a century ago it doesn’t resemble the “typical” style of the 1900s. That is thanks to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style architecture which was the first uniquely American architectural style. The Prairie style was inspired by the Midwest with its broad flat landscapes and focused more on space, patterns, form, and lines, such a dramatic shift from what the “typical” style was of the time. So much so that Mr. May’s children were called “odd” thanks to the odd house they lived in. Back then most homes resembled a Victorian style and were highly decorative and ostentatious. 

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The Meyer May house is now owned by Steelcase and thanks to their funding and the time, research and meticulous detail of many professionals the Meyer May house has been restored to its original design after years of neglect including an addition to the original structure (which was removed), modifications (including lifting the entire roof and adding steel supports in order to restore the roofs cantilever design), etc. It truly pays homage to Wright’s original design. And is such a magnificent gift to the public. The viewing of the film and tour of the house are FREE!!!


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As an Interior Designer one of my fascinations with Frank Lloyd Wright is that he extended his work beyond the architecture, he designed the furniture, carpeting, stain glass windows, beds, toys for the children, etc. He truly encompassed the Arts and Crafts movement.

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Wright described his goal as such: “To thus make of a dwelling place a complete work of art… this is the modern American opportunity.”

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It just fascinates me how he took meticulous care of detail in both the architecture and interior design. His use of scale and proportion can be noted throughout but two significant areas of the house that really stood out for me were the entrance and the master bedroom. The entrance was so tiny (to small to get a proper photograph), in fact the tour guide compared it to the entrance of a cave, I know I was experiencing a bit of claustrophobia when I entered. But then it gives way to this huge space, or does it?

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The grandeur of the space is mostly due to the fact that the entrance was so tiny and enclosed. The master bedroom also plays a visual illusion on the occupant thanks to the cantilevered roof it has a protruding window and large window box in addition to a higher ceiling that provides this sense of stateliness when in fact the square footage isn’t that big.

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Also his careful use of lines, form, space, shape, and light add to the optical illusion of the interior. His tactful use of positive space and negative space inspires me. He manages to have a barrier between one space and the next yet also utilize daylighting thanks to his careful placement of lines.


He also seems to be obsessed with shape, particularly the circle within a square form; it can be seen quite frequently throughout the house.

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I could have spent hours in each room meticulously analyzing every angle, piece of furniture, placement of glass, etc. but the tour guide would not allow it.

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Which is why I am so thankful that the tours are free and the house isn’t located to far from home, thus, I am totally going back!! Though I shall forever treasure the first time I toured the house with my architects, my father & brother (who are both architects, what can I say, it runs in the family). 



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But wait, our day in Grand Rapids Michigan isn’t over yet!! Wait to you hear about where we ate! And where we enjoyed the perfect cappuccino! More to come soon…stay tuned!

New Holland Brewing: Beer Sampling

I am sure many of us have heard the age old advice of the importance of location, location, location! And that also rings true for vacation. Location is the key! What I like about the Lake House location is that there are so many amazing towns and cities within a 60 mile radius to visit. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely enjoy our beach days however the novelty of a new place and exploring all it has to offer is invigorating! Though, that invigoration can be short lived if your expedition is filled with the wrong type of company.


The Lake House is filled with selfless souls, each serving one another, each giving, contributing, lightening the load for the other, each doing selfless acts of kindness. There are no maids, we clean, cook, do laundry, and take out our own trash and yet with many hands serving one another the work becomes joy. There is something magical about cooking with a different loved one each meal, someone whom you otherwise probably wouldn’t even see most mornings/days. And with so many hands chipping in there are a lot of cooks available for the kitchen so everyone gets breaks. Yes, it is the people; the company you keep that truly defines if you are on vacation. If everyone were to sit around and relax while one person did all the work resentment would build, the atmosphere would turn to bitterness, and resentment & bitterness are two words that you should not pack when going on vacation!


Thanks to the Lake Houses amazing location and the selfless company kept there we are able to take little excursions here & there throughout the week, adding little bonus adventures to an already Ah-mazing vacation! Our first expedition for Lake House 2015 was to New Holland Brewing for Beer Sampling!! (And yes, as many of you know I am off grains and going gluten free but this is vacation….vacation!! I totally let loose on vacation; what’s a little bloating, inflammation, and discomfort?).

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The kiddos stayed back at the house with my parents and helped prepare dinner for that evening, the theme was Italian and they pulled out ALL the stops. Then they were heading into town for lunch. See, we have different themes and different people are in charge of each, we have Italian night, Mexican, Polynesian, etc. which totally adds to all the fun! Thus, Beer Sampling only included the second generation Lake House dwellers, my sister, brother, their two friends, my hubby, and me. And it was a blast!

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The art of craft…..Each bottle of New Holland Brewing craft beer and artisan spirits captures a flavor, a harvest, a season, a moment in time.

They honor those who put imagination, creativity and inspiration into their work. Their beer and spirits pair perfectly with a blank canvas, fertile soil, a blinking cursor, an empty plate or the hint of a spark in someone’s eye. The opportunity for art is everywhere.

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We ended up ordering two samplers for the table but each consisted of the same six samples so that we could all taste and discuss the same beers. And since there were six of us it only made sense to allow each person to pick a sampler. So, are picks were Monkey King (my fav!), Full Circle, The Poet (which they use in a lot of their foods, including their ever popular chili), Macatwa Stout, White Hatter, and Sundog.

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It was fun tasting, discussing the beer, and enjoying great conversation over delicious food! (BTW-I did order the gluten free pizza, and it was delicious, not like some of the chewing cardboard gluten frees I have tasted in the past). It was an all-around fabulous afternoon!! Next year I think it might be fun to actually tour the brewery.

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TOUR the New Holland Production Campus!

Take the highly interactive tour of New Holland’s Production Campus. Be introduced to the 50 barrel brewing system from the 1940’s that brings you such delicious brews as Dragon’s Milk, Sundog, Mad Hatter, and Full Circle. Walk along the rows of aging Dragon’s Milk Barrels. Explore Michigan’s Largest and Oldest Craft Distillery which brings us such beloved flavors as Zeppelin Bend Single Malt Whiskey and Beer Barrel Bourbon.

The Tour takes roughly one hour and fifteen minutes, and includes their full brewing, packaging, and distilling systems. Beer and spirits samples are included on the tour.

Children are allowed, though not encouraged.

Tickets cost $10 per person and Tours are only offered on Saturdays.

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Looking to enjoy a beer sampling/tour a bit more local? Checkout Maumee Bay Brewing Company , Black Cloister Brewing Co. , also, click here for an awesome list of Ohio Breweries, Tours, & Beer Events!! And remember to be a bit selective with the company you keep, invite positive, upbeat, selfless, kind awesome peeps and your guaranteed fun! Cheers!!


Pure Michigan!

As I sit here reflecting back on what was seriously the best week of 2015 the tears are billowing in the corners of my eyes. Why the tears? Have you ever been somewhere and had such a magnificent time with such amazing people that it literally hurt when you had to leave?  When the sheer gravity of the experience tugs at the heartstrings?  The memory of this week is so fresh, intense, yet fragile, & tender; it is like a heartache that needs to heal.  So what could cause such joy that it literally is painful to leave? Two words, PURE MICHIGAN!!

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The promise of those two words, Pure Michigan, followed by Lake House, are what get me through our long and lately ridiculously cold Northwest Ohio winters.  Those words also get me through the toughest moments life throws at me, like when our dog of 12 years died, husband started a new job after being at a company for 15 years, when we were on snow day #6, when sewage backed up into the basement, etc. Needless to say, the Lake House located in Pure Michigan has produced a little oasis of memories in my mind that I channel when I find myself in the deepest, darkest, most frustrating moments of life.  And then finally, alas, the week I have been longing for via a cocktail of memories, hope, & anticipation for 51 weeks arrives! Destination, Douglas Michigan!

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As we pull up into the driveway after a fun filled caravan up to the Lake House from Toledo the anticipation of memories to be made fills my soul while memories of the past make it sing. I see the porch where my grandfather would sit early in the morning sipping on coffee playing a game of Sorry with the kids while waiting to have eggs & bacon for breakfast as a family.  My eyes smile when they glance past the front patio where my uncle & godfather would walk around in search of deer in the wee hours of the morning and at dusk. And I am filled with pure exhilaration when I see the fire pit where a many songs have been singed, pie iron pizzas cooked, marshmallows roasted, shooting stars viewed, and timeless memories made. We are home for the week. A week filled with love, faith, family, friends, and fun!! A week that will have me longing for July 2016!


This year would mark the first without my grandfather and uncle, thus it was bittersweet. It was a milestone at the Lake House; only having 3 generations instead of 4. They were deeply missed. We made the most of our time & I can’t wait to share!! Our first stop, THE BEACH!!!

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Lake Michigan!! Unsalted & Shark Free!! No joke, this lake is gorgeous!! It always fascinates me when walking the beach and hearing people not only speaking with strong accents but also speaking entirely different languages; people come from far and wide to enjoy all that Lake Michigan has to offer.

(Note the pic below: This is why I will NEVER ditch my stroller! (It also comes in handy when Christmas shopping….there is a cup holder for your latté, come on, why anyone would get rid of that & have to carry all their bags and latté, makes no sense!?!) We jammed all the beach “must haves” in that sucker & stroll it down to the beach).

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Though a bit chillier than past Julys we all made our way into the lake & a few of us were even daring enough to totally submerge in the lake. I mostly enjoyed watching the kiddos play in the water and make fun sandcastles and sand food.

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I definitely ate my weight in sand pizza & sand ice cream thanks to my 4 year old sand chef….thankfully I had some coconut water to wash it down, Lol!

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The only minor hiccup in our beach experience was when our sand chef lost her ice cream scoop; she was so distraught that the couple next to us offered up one of their shovels in place of her ice cream scoop. (Huge thank you to that amazing couple if you are reading this) Thankfully we located the scoop, it was buried in the sand, imagine that! lol!


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After that long and exhausting day at the beach we replenished and quenched our sweet tooth with Kilwins AH-mazing fudge!! We are on vacation….I am fairly certain everything is half the calories on vacation. Lol! And FYI-EVERYTHING tastes better on vacation!

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I can’t wait to share all of our adventures in PURE Michigan!! But for now, I have to go unpack. Be sure to check back & hear all about our garden to plate experience, Frank Lloyd Wright house, beer tasting, street performances & much more! Ciao!